WASHINGTON DC - Wednesday, in a Washington DC federal court, former Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr (IL-02) was sentenced to 30 months in federal prison and his wife Sandi sentenced to 12 months for their part in spending funds intended for Jackson's congressional campaign efforts on personal items.
Jackson will serve his time first, and then his wife Sandi will go to federal prison. He had pleaded guilty to the criminal charges back in February. Jackson admitted that he and his wife used campaign credit cards to buy 3,100 personal items worth $582,772 from 2005 through April of last year — including $60,857 for personal expenditures at restaurants, nightclubs and lounges; $16,058 for personal expenditures at sports clubs and lounges; $5,814 for alcohol and $14,513 for dry cleaning.
In light of his op-ed published before the sentencing Wednesday, Illinois Review asked Heritage Foundation's senior legal fellow Hans von Spakovsky, who also served at one time on the Federal Election Commission, whether the sentence the Jacksons received was as "significant" as he expected.
"Thirty months is not very significant jail time for the theft of three quarters of a million dollars," von Spakovsky said. "Jackson got off very light."
And why would that be different from previous FEC charges and sentencing?
"The FEC would have no say over this case. The FEC only has civil jurisdiction over campaign finance violations. The Justice Department has criminal jurisdiction and makes its own decisions on criminal prosecutions without consulting the FEC," von Spakovsky told Illinois Review.
Apparently, it does matter who your friends are in the Department of Justice when facing charges like those Jackson faced.
"Jackson was charged with only one count when he could have been charged with numerous counts – the US Attorney combined all of Jackson’s thefts of campaign funds into only one criminal count. That reduced the amount of time Jackson could be sentenced, to which depends in part on how many criminal counts have been filed against you."